Edward Vaughn, right, is congratulated by Consul General of France Philippe Sutter following the award ceremony. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

‘I’m just an ordinary pilot’: B.C. veteran, 96, awarded France’s highest honour

Saanich resident completed 36 successful missions to help liberate France in Second World War

Edward Vaughn, now 96, was a pilot in his early 20s. With sharp night vision, he completed 36 successful missions during the war to help liberate France.

The Saanich Second World War veteran was recently awarded the French Legion of Honour.

“I’m just an ordinary pilot,” says Vaughn. “Who knew that I could receive an honour like this? I’m very pleased. I hope the others who fought with me get an award too.”

Born up-Island in Cumberland on Sept. 5, 1923, Vaughn signed up for war on his own at the age of 20. He was trained as a pilot in Alberta and was later sent off to Yorkshire with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“We will never forget those who fought in battle and combat,” says Philippe Sutter, the Consul General of France for Western Canada. “We’ve come to pay tribute to Mr. Vaughn for being an inspiration. France and the other nations he helped liberate will never forget … the dangerous things he accomplished during World War II.”

During one mission, a bomb fell through a wing, taking out an engine and starting a fire on board. Vaughn and his crew were able to fully extinguish the fire and return to the base safely with only three engines.

“There was a crew of seven of us. Some as young as 19 and others who were 28. We became friends and went on to be come officers,” said Vaughn, a Broadmead Care Centre resident for the past two years.

Vaughn has five children, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

“As someone who has taught history, it’s wonderful because I have my dad as living proof of someone who went through that time,” says Gail Krickan, Vaughn’s eldest daughter. “I’m so happy that he has been given this honour.”

The French Legion of Honour is the highest decoration that France can give. It rewards individuals who served France with outstanding achievements. The honour is equivalent to the Order of Canada.

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